Staples Center: 1 year later, Lakers set to welcome back fans Thursday with COVID guidelines in place

Fans will have to prove they are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a negative test within 72 hours of tip-off.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When the Lakers host the Boston Celtics on Thursday night at Staples Center, they'll be greeted by something they haven't seen for more than a year -- fans in the stands.

In accordance with health guidelines, only about 2,000 fans will be in attendance -- far fewer compared to a sold-out pre-pandemic Laker game, which would host some 19,000 people.

Several other noticeable changes will be in effect, including required proof of either a COVID vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of tip-off before entering the downtown Los Angeles arena.

On Monday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said L.A. county would impose a 25% cap on capacity on large arenas such as Staples Center -- stricter than the state's 35% guideline. But Ferrer said Wednesday the county is "fully adhering to the state capacity limits.''

If the arena were not requiring proof of testing or vaccination, capacity would be limited to 10%.

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State and county rules limit attendance to in-state residents only.

Fans will also need to adhere to various other restrictions:

-- All fans must have digital tickets on their mobile device.

-- Everyone over age 2 must wear a face covering at all times, except when eating or drinking in a designated area. Neck gaiters, bandanas and masks with exhalation vents are prohibited. A face shield is not a substitute for an actual mask. People unable to wear a proper face covering will not be admitted.

-- No bags of any kind will be permitted, including clear bags. Fans should only bring items that can fit in their pockets. Medical and child-care bags will be permitted, but will be X-rayed upon entry. Rental lockers will be available outside the arena for people to store non-permitted bags. Complimentary feminine hygiene products will be available in restrooms.

-- Six feet of physical distancing must be maintained from other groups at all times. Spacing markers have been installed at the arena and fans will be seated away from others.

-- All transactions will be cashless, meaning fans must use credit or debit cards or contactless mobile payment methods. For people without cards, "cash-to-card'' kiosks are located in the arena.

-- Food and drink must be ordered on a mobile device by scanning the QR codes located at the concession stand or at seats. Fans will receive a text message when their order is ready for pickup. No outside food or beverages are permitted, except for a single sealed, plastic water bottle, 1 liter or smaller.

-- Eating and drinking must be done in designated areas, not in seats.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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